Julia blinked her vision back into focus. Ron’s eyes were wide like a madman, and his lipless smile spread like an open wound on his face. Julia’s eyes glowed golden, as the potion made its way into her mouth.
Julia jerked her hand against its restraint, swinging and landing a hard fist square on Ron’s jaw.
Ron staggered backwards from the impact of the unexpected contact. The swinging of her fist caused Julia’s body, attached to the chair, to fling to its side. Upon impact, the chair she was tied to broke into pieces. Julia spit out the potion and began gagging, trying to rid her body of the toxic substance. She shook the wooden pieces loose and scrambled to her feet, right as Ron was recovering from the shock of the blow.
Julia put her hand to her head. She was dizzy, but she was standing. She stood at one end of the bunker, Ron at the other.
“Looks like the potion is working its magic,” Ron observed, a sadistic smile spreading on his lips. “I’m guessing enough of it got down your throat to put you in a more agreeable disposition.”
Julia struggled to focus her eyes, but the blurriness was becoming overwhelming. Blinking wasn’t helping, so she tried to focus on Ron. He was walking to a cabinet in the bunker, and she watched him reach for the Jack Daniels. He guzzled straight from the bottle before turning to face her.
“Time for a little fun. Julia, take off your clothes,” he commanded.
Julia stood still, trying to focus her vision. She heard the words Ron spoke, but her brain wasn’t processing them. There was tightness in her head, causing her to close her eyes tight. It was as if she was experiencing extreme brain-freeze.
“Julia, take off your clothes. Now,” Ron repeated his command, moving closer to her as he spoke.
Her feet stayed planted firmly on the floor. Her hand dropped her side. Ron’s voice filled her head.
Suddenly, the pain stopped. Julia opened her eyes. She was able to see Ron clearly. His eyes filled with fear, as she stared directly at him, her eyes blazing gold.
“Sorry, Ronny boy, looks like there’s been a change in plans,” Julia said in a cool voice, a small smile forming at her lips.
“What… How… I don’t understand?” Ron said, panic-stricken confusion overcoming him. He backed up against the wall of the bunker, putting as much distance between himself and Julia as possible. In his worn out sneakers, Ron stood a couple inches shorter than her.
Emboldened by his fear, Julia’s confidence grew stronger by the second. Ron’s eyes darted to the desk. Julia’s gaze followed, and she spotted a gun next to one of the duffle bags.
Ron leapt across the room, Julia following him. His reach came up short, Julia was right on top of him before he could touch the desk. She tackled him to the floor, and Ron immediately fought back.
Ron was in the in-between phase of his alcoholic state: enough booze to dull his sense of pain, but not yet enough to slow him down. This was Ron at his most dangerous. But Julia wasn’t afraid. Quite the opposite, Julia had never been more confident in her life.
Ron was face down on the floor, and Julia was on top of him, pinning him to the ground. He struggled, writhing like a snake, trying to turn around. Julia threw punches at the back of his head, his senses too dull to feel the pain.
Julia felt a blow to her face, as Ron’s elbow struck her, causing her to fall backwards. He scrambled up to his feet and reached for the gun. Julia tucked her body in tight and rolled to the side, right as Ron fired a shot, hitting her in the shoulder.
The pain cut through Julia, but she pushed it out of her mind, concentrating on how she was going to overpower this beady-faced, little troll of a man, once and for all.
Ron fired off a series of shots, all missing Julia. She guessed his aim was terrible even when he was sober. He fired off the last bullet in the gun, pulling the trigger repeatedly, confused by the clicking sound that replaced the shots fired.
Julia stood up, braced herself for combat. She could feel the blood ooze from the wound in her shoulder, making her right arm significantly weaker. But even one-armed, Julia knew she could overpower Ron.
She smiled wide, as Ron recoiled with terror. She charged him, swinging her left arm high. Ron anticipated the movement and ducked. At the same time her arm swung, Julia’s knee raised, delivering a crushing blow to Ron’s nose. Blood sprayed, as Ron’s head was sent flying backwards, his body following.
He landed on top of the duffle bags, the weight of his body causing the desk to crack in half. Julia braced herself for more action, as she watched Ron’s body crash to the floor. The duffle bags fell on top of him, spilling their contents. Vials of the potion flew out of the bags like confetti, covering Ron’s body.
Ron tried to get back to his feet. He used his hands to push himself off of the floor, but vials of potion broke underneath his palms. Ron screamed as he held out his hands in front of his face. Blood, glass, and the blue potion covered them.
He shifted his weight to his side, more vials crushed underneath him. The glass from the vials punctured his flesh with every movement he made. The more he moved, the worse it got.
Julia stepped back, unsure of what the reaction from all the potion entering Ron’s bloodstream would be. He screamed in agony as he got to his knees. Shards of glass protruded from his body. He tried to brush the glass and potion off of him, but it looked like he was pushing the glass shards deeper into his flesh. His screams filled the room, as Julia looked around the bunker for a way to restrain him.
A loud pounding sound started to come from the ceiling. Julia looked up and found a circular opening resembling a manhole cover. She could feel the vibrations of someone trying to open the lid. This was clearly the entrance to the bunker.
Ron was oblivious to the noise from above. Julia watched as he screamed and cried at the pain inflicted upon him. She noticed something strange happening to his eyes. His pupils were dilating, making his entire eyes appear black. She didn’t know if he could see or not.
As the pounding continued, Julia searched for something to stand on to give her height to reach the manhole, all the while, keeping her eyes focused on Ron.
Julia found a wooden box and moved it underneath the round, metal door in the ceiling. It was locked from the inside. With her good arm, she cranked a metal wheel. It started to budge.
“Julia.” She looked over, Ron’s movements had stopped. He was kneeling in a pool of glass, blood, and potion. His eyes were now back to their normal appearance, but his face completely changed. The rage and fear were gone, something else taking their place. “What are you trying to do?” he asked, slowly getting up to his feet. Glass shards stood out from his body like porcupine quills.
After making several rotations, the metal door opened.
“Jesse!” Julia said, staring up at the eyes of Jesse Ross.
Jesse reached his arm into the opening, Julia reaching her good arm up to take his hand.
“No,” she heard Ron say. “You can’t leave me! You can never leave me!”
Ron lunged, as Jesse gripped her hand and pulled her up through the opening of the bunker. Ron had managed to grab one of her feet, preventing Jesse from getting her all the way out.
“I love you, Julia. I love you so much! You can’t leave me! I won’t let you!” Ron screamed. Julia kicked her free leg down at Ron’s head, his grip tightening on her other leg, pulling her hard. Julia clenched her teeth.
“I got you, hang on,” Jesse shouted, holding onto Julia.
Julia continued to kick. Suddenly, Jack jammed the butt of a riffle into the hole, landing a blow to Ron’s face. He screamed in pain and lost his grip on Julia’s leg, sending her flying out of the bunker and into Jesse’s arms.
Jack closed the lid as soon as Julia was out. He used his body weight to keep the lid closed.
“Is there any other way in or out?” Jack asked Julia.
“No, that was it,” she replied, breathing deep as she tried to catch her breath. Jesse still held her.
“You’re hurt!” Jesse exclaimed, seeing her bullet wound for the first time. He moved around Julia to face her, as she sat on the grass outside the entrance of the bunker.
“It’s not that bad,” Julia lied. Now that there was distance between her and the eminent threat of danger known as Ron Silas, the pain in Julia’s shoulder was starting to build. Jesse started to examine the bullet wound, as she watched Jack give orders to Tommy and Lee.
“Julia! Julia!” Ron’s shouts could be heard from the bunker, as he pounded on the round entrance door. Tommy pulled one of the police cars up, driving onto the entrance door, allowing Jack to step off of it. Ron wasn’t going anywhere.
“The bullet went straight through. That’s good,” Jesse reported, as Lee handed him a first aid kit. Jesse started cutting the fabric of Julia’s shirt away from her shoulder, allowing him access to treat the wound.
“Where are we?” Julia asked, as she looked around. There was a bright half-moon illuminating the sky. The headlights from the Black Paw police cars lit up the immediate area surrounding the bunker. Julia could make out that they were in the middle of an open field. Grass stretched as far as the eye could see across flat land. Jack was on his cell phone, directing orders. Tommy had a laptop out, and Lee was standing guard.
“Indiana,” Jesse responded.
“How the hell did we get to Indiana?” Julia asked.
“Ron brought you here. He set up a trap to capture you,” Jesse said coldly.
“Laura and the kids,” Julia said, the impact of the events sinking in. “Are they okay?”
“Laura and the kids are safe,” Jesse assured her.
“How on earth did you find me out here?”
“Victor,” Jesse responded. “He sang like a bird after only a day in prison. He told us all about this land. Ron purchased it and put an ‘end-of-days’ bunker here. I was questioning Victor at the prison when you called me about Shady Hill Road,” Jesse’s voice sank as he finished his sentence.
“Don’t you dare,” Julia said, causing Jesse to look up at her. “This is not your fault.”
“I didn’t protect you!” Jesse shouted. His face was distraught with pain.
“Turns out I can protect myself,” Julia smiled, touching Jesse’s cheek with her free hand.